Wal­la­bies eye up win over All Blacks

The Southland Times - - SPORT - MUR­RAY WEN­ZEL

Karmichael Hunt was con­fi­dent a much-im­proved Wal­la­bies out­fit can beat New Zealand in next week’s rugby test and he can re­turn to play a part.

The util­ity will play the sec­ond game in his come­back from an­kle surgery for Na­tional Rugby Cham­pi­onship out­fit Bris­bane City to­mor­row, be­fore he joins the Wal­la­bies squad for next Satur­day’s Bledis­loe Cup se­ries dead rub­ber.

Hunt in­sisted he is ready to be thrown into bat­tle if called on by Wal­la­bies coach Michael Cheika de­spite hav­ing played only 40 min­utes of club rugby since surgery.

‘‘There were no lin­ger­ing ef­fects, no in-game ef­fects [in the come­back game] and I’m def­i­nitely con­fi­dent in where I’m at right now,’’ Hunt said.

‘‘But is it the best prepa­ra­tion head­ing into a test? I’d have to say no.

‘‘It’s as best as I can be right now and I’ll just get into camp and train hard.’’

Af­ter play­ing his way into Cheika’s first-choice side, Hunt was a late with­drawal from Aus­tralia’s squad for the open­ing Bledis­loe Cup clash in Au­gust.

The All Blacks racked up their big­gest score against their tra­di­tional ri­vals in that game, pre­vail­ing 54-34 af­ter lead­ing 54-6.

Since then the Wal­la­bies have beaten Ar­gentina twice, drawn twice with South Africa, and came within min­utes of a rare Bledis­loe Cup win on New Zealand soil in a heart­break­ing 35-29 Dunedin de­feat.

Hunt will press his case for se­lec­tion when Bris­bane play Mel­bourne Ris­ing at a sub­ur­ban rugby ground just 3km from Sun­corp Sta­dium, where he be­lieves Aus­tralia can pre­vail over the world’s No 1 team.

‘‘The group that you see now, com­pared to the group you saw in game one in Syd­ney is chalk and cheese,’’ Hunt said.

‘‘I can see from an out­side view there is a be­lief in the style of play and play­ers that are play­ing at the mo­ment.

‘‘It’s a great time to be back get­ting in­volved.’’

Hunt will play along­side Wal­la­bies bench weapon Samu Kerevi to­mor­row in a play­off of sorts for a Wal­la­bies util­ity spot.

‘‘You just go out and play footy; I’m not try­ing to get more touches than Samu,’’ Hunt said.

‘‘I spoke [to Cheika] be­fore Ar­gentina and he said just to get back and play some footy, he wasn’t fussed on what po­si­tion I played.’’

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